by Paul Borden, photos by Pepe Delfino

And the hits just keep on coming.

Once again, a full house of more than 40 members and guests were in attendance for SAMA’s monthly luncheon, which OnStar hosted on Aug. 19 at Smith & Wollensky’s at the south tip of Miami Beach.

Steve Schwinke, Director of Advanced Systems Development for OnStar, the granddaddy of automotive telematic services, made the presentation.

Schwinke is responsible for development of new hardware platforms, mobile apps, smart grid and innovation of new services for OnStar, which was started in 1995 and now has 6 million customers in the U.S., Canada and China.

Yes, China.

In fact, Schwinke noted that Chinese motorists use the service at a pace that is five times greater than that of U.S. consumers!

Nationally, the company ranks fifth behind the likes of Coca-Cola, Verizon, Microsoft, and McDonald’s in brand awareness among the public.

In the Miami area alone, there are 53,000 subscribers who account for an average of 700 emergency responses, 430 Good Samaritan calls, 420 airbag/collision notifications, 200 roadside assistant calls, 248,000 turn-by-turn requests and 36 stolen vehicle assistance requests a year.

OnStar services fall into two categories, safety and security ($190 per year) and directions and turn-by-turn navigation (an additional $100), and Schwinke detailed two recent developments of note:

-- Services are now available for owners of non-GM vehicles through the OnStar FMV (For My Vehicle) program. The necessary equipment is sold at outlets such as Best Buy at a cost $279 plus installation. Schwinke said the service is available in about 90 percent of the Top 100 vehicles on the road today.

-- Many of the OnStar functions, such as an update on vehicle diagnostics (Need an oil change? Low on gas? Got a flat tire?), are now operable via mobile apps available on iPhone and Android devices.

We want to thank Steve and the Axis Agency hosts Stephanie Camargo, Angela Diaz, and Melissa Galarza for their time and effort in making the August luncheon such a success!

Before the presentation, a short business meeting was conducted.

Treasurer and membership chairman Marcello Serrato reported that not only are the finances in good shape, but we have two new members. Michelle Espinoza (Xtreme Line TV) and Luis Fernandez (El Garage TV) swell our membership roles to 117 -- and there is room for more!

John Kiskinis noted that the prospects are looking good for a return to Joe’s Stone Crabs for the annual luncheon previewing the auto show in October. Be sure to watch your email for updates on that event. The date will be Oct. 20.

The annual South Florida International Auto Show media day will be Oct. 28, and we will have our auto show luncheon and awards presentations that day. Ron Beasley and his committee will do their judging and select winners for our annual auto show awards, which, along with the recipient of the Terry Jackson Memorial Award, will be announced at the luncheon.

Edward Williams from Homestead-Miami Speedway also announced that current NASCAR and former Formula 1 and CART driver Juan Pablo Montoya, a Miami resident, will be available at a press conference at the Mayfair Hotel and Spa on Tuesday, Aug. 23. This is a rare opportunity to catch a Sprint Cup driver for an interview outside of the usual race week opportunities.

No date or place has been set for the September luncheon, so be sure to check your email early in the month for the usual invitation. Nissan will be the sponsor.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Giselle Delgado, Marcelo Serrato, and German Botero

Angelo Serrato, Maria Ravani, Tony Serrato, and Ady Coutinho

Erika Blanco, Ron Beasley, and Odette Jimenez

David Moreno, Kurt Ernst, Jeffrey Ross, and Malcolm Hogan

Angelica and Joe Willard

Gaby Delfino and Jose Delfino

Click on Pictures to enlarge

Giulianna Levin, Melissa Galarza (GM), Angie Diaz (GM), and Gaby Delfino

Mark Elias, Steve Schwinke (OnStar), and Marcelo Serrato

Melissa Galarza (GM), Angie Diaz (GM), Tony Serrato, and Stephanie Camargo

German Botero, Al Vasquez, Marlen Bedoya, and Joe Castello

Tony Lesesne, Emerito Pujol, Angelica Willard, Joe Williard, and Woodie Lesesne

Luca Romagnoli , Patrick Alvarez, Daniel Alvarez, and Edward Williams

Rich Babl, Melissa Nobles, and John Kiskinis

Paul Borden

Tony Serrato, Steven Marks, Ariel Garcia-Linares, and Melissa Galarza (GM)

Dick Kelley, Tony Serrato, Marcelo Serrato, Marlen Bedoya, and Angelo Serrato

Steve Schwinke (OnStar)

Steve Schwinke (OnStar)

Maria Ravani, Giulianna Levin, and Gaby Delfino

Giselle Delgado and Giorgio Cerboncini

Ray Mummery, Jennifer Naszradi, and Ron Beasley